The pickle man

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It all started with some cucumbers...

With two young children, a full-time job as a math teacher, and a seasonal job as a yard man for 25 customers, my husband decided he needed something to keep him - and me - busy.  So he started a garden.  First, there was the small (8 ft by 25 ft) plot in the backyard.  But that wasn't enough.  So he asked the man whose empty lot he mows if he could take over a half acre or so and grow green things. 

Next thing I knew, there were 30 pounds of cucumbers in my kitchen.  I couldn't get to the coffee pot, which in my house constitutes an emergency.  So I decided to learn how to make pickles.

With our garden, it tends to be feast or famine.  You can't just have equal amounts of tomatoes and cucumbers for the perfect Greek salad... that would be too easy.  Not even a good balance of jalapenos and tomatoes for salsa, or yellow squash and zuchini for stir fry.  Nope, we grew 76 jalapenos, 84 cucumbers, 10 tomatoes, and a lot of okra.  Oh, and the pumpkins that ripened on the 4th of July.  And he gives me a hard time about still compulsively shopping at the farmer's market. 

But back to the pickles.  First, there's the mandolin.  Way too easy to include a fingertip with a garlic clove at the bottom of each jar.  Then, there is the brew that would enhance my school's next version of Macbeth, which made my large dog and small son sneeze.  But after a lot of burned fingers on hot jars... and two weeks on the shelf... we ended up with some pretty amazing pickles.  I just hope we have some left to give as Christmas presents, but at the rate my three year old consumes them, we may just have to hand out red and green painted pumpkins.  Because I think our second crop should be ready by early December.

The recipe :